Q: Does God want everyone to be Catholic?
A: This is actually the title of a brief talk I gave at the recent Strong Men Strong Faith Conference, and I also gave an expanded version of it at St. Peter the Apostle parish a couple of weeks ago. It is my belief that this is one of the most important questions that we can ask ourselves as Catholics, and that how we answer this question determines how inclined, and how effective we are, in evangelization. So, over the next couple of weeks I’m going to be discussing that question in this column.
Does God want everyone to be Catholic? I am willing to bet, for many of you reading this, that question has never ever entered your mind. But it needs to, because it is such an important question. The answer to that question will determine some very important things.
And, I know there are folks reading this who are not Catholic, and I don’t want to exclude anyone, so if you are not Catholic, I want you to think about that question in terms of your faith tradition. Does God want everyone to be Baptist, or Evangelical, or Methodist, or Episcopalian, or whatever your particular faith tradition is? So, even though I will be focusing this column on the Catholic Faith, because the majority of folks reading it are Catholic, I invite you to focus that question on your particular faith tradition.
Now, why is this such an important question? Well, we can see why by examining the possible answers and seeing what ramifications each one of those answers holds. There are only two possible answers: “Yes,” God wants everyone to be Catholic; or, “No,” God does not want everyone to be Catholic.
First, let’s look at what it means to answer that question in the positive, that, “Yes,” God wants everyone to be Catholic. I believe, personally, the answer to that question is indeed, “Yes.” I believe that God does indeed want everyone to be Catholic. If I didn’t, I wouldn’t be doing what I do in regards to evangelization. Also, if you think about it, it only makes sense that many of the martyrs who died trying to bring the Faith to the various parts of the world, believed likewise. From an evangelization standpoint, I believe it is imperative that every Catholic should believe this way. And, again, not to leave anyone out, I think it is imperative that every Baptist, Methodist, Episcopalian, Evangelical, etc. should believe that God wants everyone to be a member of their faith tradition.
Why?! Why do I say that? I say that, because truth matters. If you believe you have the truth, then wouldn’t God want everyone else to have that same truth? The Bible tells us that Jesus established a church. And what does the Bible tell us about the Church founded by Jesus Christ? In 1 Tim 3:15, the Bible tells us that this Church is the pillar and ground of the truth. In other words, it is the upholder and foundation of the truth.
The Bible also tells us, in Ephesians 1:23, that this Church founded by Jesus Christ is the Body of Christ and is the “fullness of Him Who fills all in all.” The Church is the fullness of Jesus Christ – the Bible is very clear on that. And Jesus Christ says in John 14:6 that He is the truth. So, if the Church is the fullness of Jesus Christ, as the Bible says, and Jesus Christ is the truth, as the Bible says, then the Church founded by Jesus Christ contains the fullness of the truth that has been given to us by Jesus Christ. Furthermore, the Bible tells us, in John 16:13, that Jesus Christ sent the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of Truth, to guide His Church into all truth.
So, this Church that the Bible tells us was founded by Jesus Christ; this Church that the Bible tells us is the pillar and ground – the upholder and foundation – of the truth; this Church that the Bible tells us is the fullness of Jesus Christ – the fullness of the truth; this Church that the Bible tells us is guided into all truth by the Holy Spirit – the Spirit of Truth; this Church must teach us what?! Error?! No! This Church must teach us truth…it cannot teach us error. The Church founded by Jesus Christ must teach the truth…the fullness of the truth. It cannot teach error!
So, does God want everyone to be Catholic, or Baptist, or Lutheran, or Evangelical, or whatever your particular faith tradition is? As I have just shown, from the Bible, the Church founded by Jesus Christ contains the fullness of the truth that He has made known to us about Himself and it does not teach error. Does it not make sense, then, that if a church doesn’t, at the very least, claim these things for itself, that it cannot be the Church founded by Jesus Christ; the Church which contains the fullness of the truth as given to us by Jesus Christ; the church that does not teach error? Given that, we need to ask: What does my church claim about itself? And for me, as a Catholic, I need to specifically ask: What does the Catholic Church claim about itself? Well, it turns out that she in fact claims to contain the fullness of the truth given to us by Jesus Christ and claims that she does not, in fact cannot, teach error in the realm of faith and morals.
So, the Bible tells us that the Church founded by Jesus Christ contains the fullness of the truth, and that it does not teach error, and here is the Catholic Church claiming to contain the fullness of the truth, claiming that it does not teach error, and also claiming to have been founded directly by Jesus Christ.
Next week: The ramifications of answering, “Yes”…